Freudenthal Home Health Blog

Freudenthal Home Health salutes family caregivers in the St. Joseph, MO area who are giving wonderful care and help to their senior loved ones each and every day. Our goal with this blog is to give information and resources to help and support St. Joseph, MO area family caregivers.

Top 5 Ways To Beat The Winter Blah!

The days are getting shorter and the winds are getting colder, it’s a sure sign that winter is saying hello. For some, this time of year is a time of happiness and celebration, but for many seniors winter can be one of the most depressing seasons. Winter depression is still a mystery to scientists who study it. Many things, including brain chemicals, ions in the air, and genetics seem to be involved. However, they all agree that one major contributor to this seasonal depression is the lack of light, which leads us to number one on our list!

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Let the
light shine in!

Open those blinds and turn on those lights. Get as much light as you can. You might even consider looking into lights that simulate the brightness and glow of natural light. It seems simple enough: In higher latitudes, winter days are shorter, so you get less exposure to sunlight. Replace lost sunlight with bright artificial light, and your mood improves.

Alfred Lewy, MD, a seasonal affective disorder researcher at the Oregon Health & Science University, says it's not only a matter of getting light, but also getting it at the right time. "The most important time to get light is in the morning," he says. There are alarm clocks that actually simulate the rising of the sun and gradually fill your room with light to help you wake up in a more natural way and start your day off right.

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Listen To The Music

A 2013 study in the Journal of Positive Psychology found that people who listened to upbeat music could improve their moods and boost their happiness in just two weeks.

In the study, participants were instructed to try to improve their mood, but they only succeeded when they listened to the upbeat music. Plus, a happier mood brings benefits beyond feeling good. Lead study author, Yuna Ferguson, noted that happiness has been linked to better physical health, higher income, and greater relationship satisfaction.

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Spend Quality Time

People who spend time with family and friends helps to relieve stress. A study conducted by Carnegie Mellon University found that people use their family and friends as a stress buffer, talking about their problems instead of seeking negative coping mechanisms. The emotional support provided by social ties enhances your psychological well-being. One study found that people who view their friends and families as supportive reported a greater sense of meaning in life and felt like they had a stronger sense of purpose.

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Make New Plans

Nothing gets your mind off of your problems like having something to look forward to. Plan something to do, whether it’s a vacation or going to local events. Consider buying tickets to a concert, plan a night out, or head to a movie. The key here is to find something that you’re really excited about doing and savor not only the experience, but the anticipation of doing it.

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Cuddle With A Pet

Studies have shown that pets can be both fun and calming. These furry friends can be the perfect companion in a moment of depression and sadness. When you’re feeling down, spend some extra time petting your cat or playing catch with your dog. You’ll both be happier!

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Call Out For Help

If nothing seems to help, don’t hesitate to call out for help. Call your family, friends, doctor, or Freudenthal. We are here to help you find the care you need, no matter what! We want to help you live a full life at home surrounded by compassionate care.

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Check out our new commercial!

Freudenthal Hospice is the realization of a goal to provide a complete continuum of care at home. We’ve brought together the best team of hospice professionals who care deeply about their patients and families.

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Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving from your Freudenthal Family!
May your day be filled with love and blessings!

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DYI Memory Coasters!

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With Christmas upon us, here’s a meaningful gift that won’t break the bank and can help jog the memory of your loved ones. The best part is that you don’t have to be a super crafty person to make this wonderfully practical gift!

Here’s what you’ll need to create some cute and personalized photo coasters:

  • pictures

  • square tiles
    (ideally a tile with a rough surface)

  • Mod Podge

  • small paint brush

  • felt

  • spray adhesive

  • clear top coat spray

  • newspaper or magazines

Step 1:  Prepare your pictures

Find clear pictures that distinctly show the faces of individual family members. Use a free app like “Phonto” to add your names to the photos. You can print your photos at home on computer paper. You may want to use a photo paper or laser printer if you’d like to ensure the best quality for your photos. Cut the photos to the same size as your tiles. They don’t have to fit perfectly on the tile, since the Mod Podge will ensure the photo adheres well to the edges of the tile.

Step 2:  Glue photos to the tile

Pour a quarter-size amount of Mod Podge on your tile and use the paint brush to spread it across the top of the tile. A thin coat should be fine because a little bit goes a long way.  Then, Place the picture of top of the tile and pressed it down so it adheres well. Make sure you smooth out any bubbles and then let dry.

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Step 3:  Seal the photo

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After the glue was dry, pour another quarter size amount of Mod Podge on the top of the picture and spread it across the surface. Spread it all the way to the very edge of the tile to make sure the edge of the photo adheres well to the tile. Use enough that the surface of the tile looks white and the photo is no longer visible (It dries clear, so don’t worry!). Let it dry completely until it is dry to the touch.

Cover the photo with a second layer of Mod Podge to make sure it’s good and thick.

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Step 4:  Add felt to bottom of the tile

Cut out felt squares to be slightly smaller than the size of the tile so that it won’t be visible when the coasters are turned over and being used.

Spray the adhesive onto the back of the tiles (if possible do this outside to ensure proper ventilation) and then place the piece of felt right on top. Press it down to make sure it adheres well. Lay the tile down with felt up in the air and let the adhesive dry about an hour or so before continuing. Otherwise, you might have sticky fingers!

Step 5: Add a protective layer

Spray a thin and even layer of the topcoat over the top and edges of the tiles.  Let this dry for an hour or so. Spray a second coat on the tiles to make sure they are well protected.  Let everything dry well overnight.

Once they are completely dry, you are ready to use them or give them away!  Stack them on top of each other and then tie them up with some burlap twine.

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Happy Veterans Day!

We proudly salute the men and women who have fought and continue to fight for our freedom. Happy Veterans Day from your Freudenthal Family!

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LSVT Big — Hope for Parkinson's Patients

In this wonderful interview, Maureen Raffensperger, PT, DPT and Stephanie Hughes, PTA explain what LSVT Big is and how it helps give hope to those living with Parkinson’s Disease.

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5 Exercises To Increase Balance & Stability

 Dr. Robert Knowles, DPT

Dr. Robert Knowles, DPT

Unfortunately, the impact of falls among older adults can be significant. In addition to the likelihood of a slower healing process along with the chance that complete healing may not occur, fall-related injuries can quickly become a vicious cycle. When seniors fall, they often develop a fear of falling which can lead them to become sedentary. The more sedentary they become, the weaker their bones and muscles become. This, in turn, increases the likelihood of future falls and injuries, and may ultimately impede their ability to live independently.

To combat this we’ve asked Dr. Robert Knowles, DPT what older adults can do to keep from falling. Dr. Knowles has been a key member of the Freudenthal Physical Therapy Team for 3 years and has helped many seniors along their road to recovery and helped them prevent future falls. Here are his top 5 exercises that can help improve balance and stability and help prevent falls from happening.

1) Standing March

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Setup

  • Begin in a standing upright position with your feet shoulder width apart and hands resting on your hips.

Movement

  • Lift one leg with your knee bent, then lower it back to the ground and repeat with your other leg. Continue this movement, alternating between each leg.

TIP: Make sure to keep your back straight and maintain your balance during the exercise.

2 times a day
1 set of 10 reps


2) Standing Hip Abduction

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Setup

  • Begin in a standing upright position holding onto a chair at your side for support.

Movement

  • Lift your leg out to your side, then return to the starting position and repeat.

TIP: Make sure to keep your moving leg straight and do not bend or rotate your trunk during the exercise.

2 times a day
1 set of 10 reps


3) Standing Hamstring Curl with Chair Support

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Setup

  • Begin standing with your hands resting on a stable surface.

Movement

TIP: Make sure to keep your back straight and maintain your balance throughout the exercise.
  • Pick up one foot and bend your knee as far as you can. Then, lower your leg back to the floor and repeat.

2 times a day
1 set of 10 reps


4) Lunge with Counter Support

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Setup

  • Begin in a standing upright position with your hand resting on a counter at your side.

Movement

TIP: Make sure to keep your trunk upright and use the counter to help you balance as needed. Do not let your front knee collapse inward or bend forward past your toes.
  • Step forward and bend your knees to lower your body into a lunge position. Press into your feet and straighten your legs to stand up and repeat.

2 times a day
1 set of 10 reps


5) Heel - Toe Raises with Counter Support

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Setup

  • Begin in a standing upright position with one hand resting on a counter in front of you.

Movement

TIP: Make sure to maintain an upright posture and use the counter to help you balance as needed.
  • Rise up onto your toes, hold briefly, then lower back down and lift the balls of your feet off the ground. Repeat.

2 times a day
1 set of 10 reps

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Kick Frailty To The Curb!

As each of us get older, becoming frail is the last thing any of us think about. Many times I’ve heard people comment how cute they find an elderly man or woman that is frail. “They’re just like a porcelain doll.” I guarantee that none of us will think it’s cute if we become frail ourselves.

What is frailty and why should we care about it?

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Frailty is a decline in strength or energy that actually puts older adults at risk for illness and injury. It’s impacted by things like proper nutrition and getting enough exercise that helps to build and maintain muscle. We have to care about this because frailty is an extreme loss of strength and energy. It puts our loved ones and ourselves at greater risk for developing illness and being injured. Frailty is one of the leading causes of falls in the home of those over the age of 65. It also depletes the immune system so that we have a harder time of fighting off illness. The good news is that it can be screened for by a physician.

Recognize The Signs of Frailty

  • Low Energy

  • Depression

  • Slow walking

  • Decreased Grip Strength

  • Sudden or unintentional weight loss

Get in the fight and kick frailty to the curb!

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Now that you know what frailty is - it’s time to start fighting against it. Combating frailty revolves mainly around diet and exercise. Make sure you’re eating a balanced and healthy diet that helps to boost your immune system. Making sure that you’re adding leafy green vegetables like kale and peas in your diet. These have the highest amounts of protein and help to rebuild muscle. Along with protein make sure sources of calcium and vitamin D are included in your diet to help with bone strength and muscle health.

You may also need to speak with your doctors and see if any of your medications may be affecting your appetite. You will also want to maintain good dental health, not only because it helps your heart, but also so you can chew comfortably.

Along with all the changes in diet, we need to make sure we’re staying active. There are a lot of great activities that can help us remain physical. Freudenthal is proud to be able to help with this by providing exercise classes all across the area lead by Kelly Jarrett, PTA. There are also exercises like walking and Tai Chi that are very popular in our area.

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It's Time To Get BIG For Parkinson's!

Have you heard of LSVT Big? It’s a great program that is changing the lives of people suffering the debilitating effects of Parkinson’s disease. LSVT BIG trains people with Parkinson’s disease (PD) to use their body more normally.  People living with PD or other neurological conditions often move differently, with gestures and actions that become smaller and slower. LSVT BIG effectively trains improved movements for any activity, whether “small motor” tasks like buttoning a shirt or “large motor” tasks like getting up from a sofa or chair or maintaining balance while walking. The treatment improves walking, self-care and other tasks by helping people “recalibrate” how they perceive their movements with what others actually see. It also teaches them how and when to apply extra effort to produce bigger motions – more like the movements of everyone around them.

This therapy can only be administered by certified physical and occupational therapists, physical therapist assistants, and occupational therapist assistants. Freudenthal is proud to offer this amazing therapy. Maureen Raffensperger, PT, DPT and Stephanie Hughes, PTA are leading the way in helping PD patients maintain and even regain movement and mobility to continue the activities of daily living. For more information about this amazing program, call us at 816-676-8050!

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Blood Cancer: What You Need To Know

Anytime we hear the word cancer it can be scary and confusing. There are so many different types of cancers, but today we’re going to focus on blood cancers. Blood cancers affect the production and function of blood cells, makes sense right? Most of these cancers start in our bone marrow where blood is produced. Stem cells in your bone marrow mature and develop into three types of blood cells: red blood cells, white blood cells, or platelets. In most blood cancers, the normal blood cell development process is interrupted by uncontrolled growth of an abnormal type of blood cell. These abnormal blood cells, or cancerous cells, prevent your blood from performing many of its functions, like fighting off infections or preventing serious bleeding. There are several types of blood cancers and several subtypes within each blood cancer.

My loved one or friend was just diagnosed with blood cancer - how can I help?

It depends on how much you want or can do to help. One of the most important things you can do to help is to stay in touch with the loved one or friend. You can help with little things, or perhaps even take on larger tasks. Mowing the lawn on a weekly basis may seem like a small thing to you; however, it is a huge thing that a loved one wouldn’t have to worry about. Driving them to appointments may not seem like "really helping out;" however, to the family it is one less issue that needs to be resolved.

Other ideas:

  • Make dinner

  • Offer to come over and do laundry weekly or clean the house

  • Do weekly grocery shopping

  • Walking their dog or helping take care of other pets

Being available for whatever your loved one or friend needs is one of the greatest gifts you can offer. Even if you’re not a family member, by simply being there, you can be a genuine gift to your friend and their family caregivers. Remember it can be a long road. Oftentimes it can be easy to become burned out, especially if you are a family caregiver. When those moments happen it’s important to have resources to help pick up the slack and give respite care. Freudenthal offers many services that can help fill in those gaps and help smooth out the bumps in the road. Don’t hesitate to call us with questions at 816-676-8050!

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Preventing Falls & Saving Lives

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The effects of falls are staggering and sometimes even fatal. Falls are the leading cause of fatal injury among older adults, and the most frequent reason for non-fatal trauma as well. Statistics show that every 11 seconds, an older adult is treated in the emergency room for a fall and every 19 minutes, an older adult dies from a fall. 

Family caregivers can help their senior loved ones stay safe, whether they’re living with them or separately. The National Council on Aging suggests following these steps:

1. Discuss function levels, medications, eyeglasses.

Family caregivers can only do so much. Many seniors believe they won’t fall — or they won’t get seriously hurt. Discuss their current health conditions and if they need help managing their medications. Ask them if any of their daily tasks are more difficult than usual, and try to ensure their eye prescription is up to date.

2. Look for warning signs and take action.

If your parent is holding onto walls, furniture or other people when walking, it’s time to speak with their physician about having a Freudenthal physical therapist do an assessment. Some aging adults may be resistant to using a cane or walker as they see it as a loss of independence.

3. Get a fall risk assessment.

Is the carpet on one pesky step torn? Is the kitchen step stool wobbly? Is the bathtub slippery? Contact Freudenthal for a safety assessment. Our professionals will walk through the home, looking at lighting, stairs, bathrooms, bedrooms, the kitchen and common spaces to ensure the fall risk is minimal and pointing out what could be changed.

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Peace Of Mind That Saves Lives

Freudenthal ERS not only brings your family peace of mind, but it can also save your loved one's life in more ways than one. Listen to these success stories...

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Hospice Volunteers: A Light In The Darkness

When someone enters into hospice care, it's always with a terminal diagnosis. It can be a moment of darkness facing our own mortality, but there are a special group of people who are shedding light during these moments of darkness. Volunteers help to brighten the lives of hospice patients in various ways. 

“Facing the end of life takes courage, perhaps especially for the family members of patients. Facing that approaching loss is a difficult thing. But, we don’t have to face it alone. This is the real gift of hospice services—support for both patients and their family members at every step of the way. And, with support, we can find comfort and even beauty in coming to terms with end-of-life and the process of grief.”

The value of hospice volunteers is immeasurable. They bring a sense of normalcy to the hospice patient and the family. This can also allow them to build very strong and personal relationships with the hospice patient and their family. 

"I’ve been a hospice volunteer for a decade. I provide respite for caregivers of terminally ill people. I know that sounds depressing in itself….honestly, it’s rewarding work. Volunteers are asked to take blankets to patients on hospice. The blankets are crocheted by generous, kind souls that enjoy their craft."

Not all hospice volunteers make visits, some create blankets or other comforting items that other volunteers take out to the patients. Volunteer roles can vary based on the talents they offer to share. 

"...she happily shared with me memories of trips she had taken, documented carefully in numerous scrapbooks. We spent hours together going through those scrapbooks.   After several months, as Ann Marie’s condition improved, she was discharged from hospice..."

Not every hospice case ends in death, conditions can improve and they can be discharged. Sometimes a little bit of light in a dark moment can be enough to change hopeless into hopeful. Being a hospice volunteer can change not only your life but the life of the patient and their family. If you're interested in applying to be a volunteer, fill out our application here, or contact our volunteer coordinator Stefanie Nold.

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Avoid Hostile Takeovers: Gauging When To Step In

One of the hardest decisions as a family caregiver for an aging parent, is knowing when to take over and when to let things go. Rarely do you find a family caregiver who relishes taking over the monitoring of daily activities for an aging loved one. It involves a lot more work and even more emotional stress. No one wants to feel like they're taking away their loved one's dignity, and many times this leads to a lot of watching and waiting, sometimes until it is too late.

Safety Isn't The Only Factor

While safety is one of the biggest factors, it shouldn't be the only one helping to make the decision. One common struggle that illustrates this idea is medication management. Many family caregivers have the common story of setting up the pill box on Sunday, and by Wednesday it's in disarray. The wrong pills have been taken on the wrong day. In this example, we have to not only consider their safety but also their physical health. If they are not getting their meds in the right doses or at the right times, it could lead to serious health issues and even hospitalization. Here it might be good to make sure someone is watching them take their pills or even implementing the use of a med box that only distributes medicines based on a time. Each of these options is readily available as part of the medication management services provided by Freudenthal in-home care.

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On the other hand, your loved one may just want to be able to use the restroom on their own. In this case you may be able to use various items like a raised commode seat and bars in order to help them maintain that sense of dignity. In each of these cases there needs to be an open and honest discussion with your aging loved one, and a willingness to listen to their point of view. 

Start The Discussion Early

Too many times the conversation about a contingency plan for aging loved ones doesn't happen as early as it should. It gets placed on the back burner until the loved one is already experiencing issues both mentally and physically. Start talking with them early, when they can be an active part of the conversation and planning. This can help to alleviate some of the emotional stress for both the family caregiver and the aging loved one when the time comes to make a change.

Avoid A Hostile Takeover

Try to take an incremental approach to taking over or helping with your loved ones activities of daily living. This can be achieved by keeping the care discussion going at regular intervals. Encourage your loved one to do as much as they can but also to reach out for help when they need it. It can be a hard balance to find, but keep the communication lines open.

Don't Hesitate To Reach Out For Help

As family caregivers, there can be a certain amount of pride, guilt, and sometimes even financial concerns, that keep us from reaching out for help. We want to take everything on our shoulders and that just isn't possible. When you find yourself in moments of doubt, anger, depression, or any other number of emotions that linger on the edge of burn-out, give Freudenthal a call, we can help.

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7 Myths About Hospice

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Myth #1: Hospice is a place.

Hospice is not a place. It is a philosophy of care. Wherever a patient calls home is where hospice care is provided: residence, assisted living facility, nursing home, inpatient facility (hospice house) or hospital.

Myth #2: Hospice patients cannot live longer than six months.

Patients can be on hospice for longer than six months. Once an individual becomes a patient at Freudenthal, he or she continues to receive services for as long as they are required and appropriate as determined by their physician. Hospice services are NOT discontinued unless they are deemed to no longer be necessary or appropriate by a physician, or the patient chooses to stop them.

Myth #3: Hospice care is only for people with cancer or those who are bedridden or very ill.

Although many patients do have cancer, Freudenthal hospice serves terminally ill patients with all types of progressive and chronic diseases. Many of our patients are able to enjoy life as much as they did before their diagnoses. This fact is especially true if care is accessed early in their illness.

Myth #4: Hospice care is expensive.

Hospice care is actually less expensive than care provided in a traditional medical setting. Additionally, MedicareMedicaid and most other insurances cover the cost of hospice care.

Myth #5: Hospice is for patients who do not need a high level of care.

End-of-life care is extremely complex. The Freudenthal hospice team is composed of specially trained professionals who provide comprehensive medical care.

Myth #6: Hospice means “nothing more can be done.”

When a cure is no longer an option, there is still a great deal that can be done to control symptoms, and provide care, comfort and support. The Freudenthal hospice team includes nurses, physicians, hospice aides, social workers, chaplains, bereavement counselors and trained volunteers. Team members visit patients and families wherever they call home and are available 24/7 for support and care.

Myth #7: Hospice is just for the patient.

Hospice focuses on providing comfort, dignity and emotional support to the patient and their loved ones. Quality of life for all concerned is our highest priority. Freudenthal surrounds you and your family with first-class care.

These hospice myths are just a few examples of the many misconceptions regarding hospice care. The Freudenthal hospice team specializes in openly discussing end-of-life wishes and assisting in development of a first-class care plan. Let us help you get past the myths and choose the path that is right for your situation.

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Are You Really Prepared?

Floods, earthquakes, tornados, snowstorms . . . here in the midwest any one of these can happen and create an emergency situation. Granted the earthquakes we've had in the past weren't nearly as severe as those in California, but they still can and do happen.

As family caregivers, it's times like these that you'll be thankful for having prepared for such a situation, especially when your loved ones have very specific care needs. Even at Freudenthal we have a disaster plan for making sure all of our clients still receive care in the darkest of situations. 

Here is an easy to follow checklist to help you get prepared:

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Give Your Eyes A Break From The Sun — Or Else...

It’s well known that exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light from the sun can cause skin damage, but many studies show that UV light can also increase the risk of cataracts and other eye conditions.

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Oxidative stress refers to harmful chemical reactions that can occur when our cells consume oxygen and other fuels to produce energy. It’s considered a major contributor to normal aging and unfortunately, cataract formation in the lens of your eye.

A study, led by researchers at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, suggests that UV light can damage lens proteins in a distinct way that is typically seen in cataracts and in cells damaged by oxidative stress. In other words, UV light can substitute for oxygen to trigger harmful oxidative reactions in the lens.

Many misconceptions exist about the right sun protection for your eyes. Keep these tips in mind:

  • Not all sunglasses block 100 percent of UV rays. 
  • Remember to wear sunglasses even when you're in the shade. Although shade reduces your UV exposure to some degree, your eyes still will be exposed to UV rays reflected from buildings, roadways and other surfaces.
  • Sunglasses are important especially in winter, because fresh snow can reflect 80 percent of UV rays, nearly doubling your overall exposure to solar UV radiation.
  • Even if your contact lenses block UV rays, you still need sunglasses. UV-blocking contacts shield only the part of your eye under the lens.
  • If you have dark skin and eyes, you still need to wear sunglasses. Although your dark skin may give you a lower risk of skin cancer from UV radiation, your risk of eye damage is the same as that of someone with fair skin.

You need not fear the outdoors and sunny days, as long as you are equipped with the correct eye protection to reduce your UV exposure.

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Happy Independence Day!

 

Your Freudenthal Family would like to wish you and yours a safe and blessed Fourth of July!

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Medicare Has Homebound Criteria For Home Health Care?

Yes they do, and it can make a big difference in the care they are willing to pay when it comes to home health care. Does your loved one meet homebound criteria? No worries if you don't know, Freudenthal has an amazing staff that can help you figure it all out. In the meantime, here is a helpful info graphic that illustrates the different eligibility requirements that might apply to your loved one. Just remember it's always better to give us a call to be sure. 

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Why New Joints Require Physical Therapy

Knee and hip replacement surgeries are becoming more common every day. The procedures themselves are even getting more streamlined and better every year. Should you have knee or hip replacement surgery, your doctor will insist you do physical rehabilitation afterward. A regular physical therapy program is a key part of recovery from these surgeries. Building up strength in the muscles around your new joint, will help you get back to your normal activities.

Benefits of Rehab

  • Restore normal movement in your joint
  • Build up strength in the joint and surrounding muscles
  • Ease pain and swelling
  • Continuing your normal activities
  • Help with circulation, particularly right after surgery, so you don't have problems with blood clots

Rehab Right After Your Operation

If you've just had surgery, your doctor will have you start moving your joint very soon. If you're not in too much pain, you may actually start the day of the operation. At first you'll sit up on the edge of the bed, and maybe stand and walk a few steps with some help.

During your hospital stay, you'll work with a physical therapist on some simple exercises. For instance, they may ask you to pump your ankles or tense and relax your thighs. They will also have you get up and walk around with the help of crutches or a walker.

Rehab Once You Get Home

Your doctor will show you a list of companies that offer physical therapy, like Freudenthal. Our physical therapists come to your home for regular visits and, more often than not, will give you exercises to work on between sessions that help you improve your range of motion in the new joint.

You'll gradually add more strengthening exercises as you build up your endurance. You should exercise 20-30 minutes, two or three times every day – or as much as your doctor suggests. Walking several times a day may also help. Start with only 5 minutes, and work your way up to 20-30 minutes, several times a day. Use a cane if you need it.

Whether you work with our amazing therapists at Freudenthal or on your own, stay as active as possible for your overall health. Now that you have a new joint, you need to keep it in good shape!

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